The 2022 New Year’s resolutions season is upon us. Sure, you could make a New Year’s resolution about lifting more weights or eating more broccoli and protein. Perhaps you resolve to go to sleep earlier, or get at least 10,000 steps every day. Those are all good. But you’re a drone pilot, so you should think about ways to grow your hobby or — if you work in drones already — to grow your career.
With that, I’ve compiled a list of ideas for 2022 New Year’s resolutions that drone pilots could make:
1. Get licensed or certified as a drone pilot
While the FAA requires that everyone operating a drone in the U.S. weighing 249 grams or more must be certified or licensed, the reality is that anyone can buy a drone from their local electronics store and start flying it. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Getting your Remote Pilot certificate under Part 107 or passing the FAA recreational drone test is a critical step in adding legitimacy to the drone industry and more importantly, ensuring you know your stuff in terms of operating safely.
So what type of license or certification do you need?
If you’re flying drones for business reasons (which includes any situation where you’re making money via your drone): Get a Remote Pilot certificate under Part 107
If you intend to make money off your drone (which includes selling the videos you take from it or providing videos to another company such as for marketing materials), you need a commercial license. You can get that by passing a written test from the Federal Aviation Administration called the Aeronautical Knowledge Test. Check out my guide to everything you need to know about the Part 107 test.
As far as Part 107 online study courses go, I used and highly recommend Drone Pilot Ground School. Here’s my complete guide to other Part 107 training courses.
If you’re flying for fun: Pass the FAA recreational drone test (referred to as TRUST)
Flying drones recreationally is a much simpler process, but there is still some official (virtual) paperwork involved.
To fly drones as a hobbyist, you must complete an easy online course referred to as TRUST (it takes 30-60 minutes to complete). Once through, you’ll be directed to an online quiz which you must pass. That test can be taken online for free via one of the FAA-approved partner organizations. See the full list of TRUST administrators here. This is an easy one to check off your New Year’s to-do list!
2. Try drone racing
Many of you are all serious, enterprise pilots, which is so awesome. But I encourage you to try the lighter, wildly fun side of drones, drone racing! I’m not particularly good at it, but it’s always fun to try.
In fact, DJI made FPV drone racing more available to the masses this year with the launch of its first-ever FPV drone. Named the ‘DJI FPV’, this drone is largely ready for takeoff right out of the box, though it’s not exactly cheap as it starts at $1,299.
For a free way to try drone racing, download the Drone Racing Arcade game. This free, mobile game simulates being a racing drone pilot and was created by DRL in partnership with Skillz. It’s available on the Google and Apple app stores.
3. Work on your media pitch (for your business or your personal brand)
Perhaps this one is selfish of me, but I want you to work on your pitch! Your elevator pitch, your press pitch, whatever! I get a lot of requests from people hoping I’ll cover their product or company. But the reality is, much of what I’m pitched is poorly presented. The product or company isn’t bad — the pitch is!
Luckily, I put together a video tutorial on how to pitch your drone business or product to press, which you can view here.
The benefit to you: more press coverage, which grows your brand awareness. A stronger sales pitch to entice investors or customers, bringing you more money.
4. Do something creative or inventive
It’s not all business. Do something that reinvigorates your love for drones! Try a new way to creatively incorporate drones in your life. This guide to making a drone racing business card is a delightfully hilarious example of that. Learn a new, drone-adjacent skill. That might be learning how to program your own drone using Python, or building a Raspberry Pi drone.
What are your 2022 New Year’s resolutions? Share your best ideas in the comments below!